January 2019 Issue - Why are we required to do self-assessments by the COKO? The research and reasoning behind the yearly self-reflection – Rebecca Ataman, RKin, MSc

Posted Jan 24th, 2019 in KineKT

Every winter brings with it snow, ice and the many self-assessment reminders by the College of Kinesiologists of Ontario (COKO).  Every winter I hear bitter complaints about completing something so tedious.  The common refrain of  “What is the point?” circulates amongst my colleagues. Self-assessments for healthcare professionals are mandated for every regulated healthcare profession in Ontario.  The policy is ubiquitous, but the goals of the self-assessment are often not as well understood by clinicians, leaving them unachieved(1).

According to the COKO, the goals of the self-assessment and professional portfolio are to “promote self-assessment, professional accountability and practice reflection to continuously improve the quality of professional performance.”(2) This definition describes the steps of the process well.  The most tangible goal of the self-reflection is the last, which describes continuous self-improvement such that evidence-based practice is maintained (see October 2017 KineKT article for an overview of evidence-based practice).(3)

An infamous statistic in continuing education for healthcare professionals is that it takes, on average, 17 years for research evidence to reach clinical practice.(4)  By fostering self-awareness, the self-assessment and professional portfolio aims to reduce that knowledge lag by encouraging practitioners to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, and identify the resources they need to access to improve.  In other words, to determine what areas within their scope of practice may no longer be evidence-based.  This is the tedious process we all complain about - the reflection, the documentation of educational activities, the setting of goals.  However, the real work occurs during the rest of the year when we must address the weaknesses we have identified.

Unfortunately, research has shown that without a proper understanding of the importance and goals of the self-assessment, there appears to be a limited impact on professional practice. This is thought to due to a lack of buy-in from clinicians.(1)  Some practical suggestions regarding how to increase buy-in and encourage evidence-based practice include:

  1. Encouraging group or team educational and research activities.
  2. Using sources you are comfortable evaluating the accuracy and impact of.  Clinicians often believe workshops or research articles are the only ‘acceptable’ way to access information to address their knowledge gap, however, clinicians can be reliably informed through other resources including other clinicians, clinical guidelines, professional association publications and even (trustworthy) YouTube videos.  Oftentimes, these sources have summarized the available information making them convenient and relevant to clinical practice.  However, it is important to remember that one should not rely solely on one information source to make an informed clinical decision!
  3. If you are in a position to do so, either ask or include formal time at work for research and educational activities (including the completion of the self-assessment and professional portfolio).  A strong case can be made that everyone wins when a clinician is allotted time to ensure they undertake evidence-based practice. 

Remember that just like when working with patients or clients it takes time to change a habit.  If you set yourself realistic goals and apply the concepts of lifestyle change, you may find the process of self-reflection and self-directed continuing education is rewarding, and can increase engagement with Kinesiologists and other health professionals.(1)
1.  Foucault ML, Vachon B, Thomas A, Rochette A, Giguère CÉ. Utilisation of an electronic portfolio to engage rehabilitation professionals in continuing professional development: results of a provincial survey. Disability and rehabilitation. 2018 Jun 19;40(13):1591-9. Available from:


2. College of Kinesiologists of Ontario.  Self-Assessment. [cited September 23 2018]. Available from: https://coko.ca/CKO_Public/Public_Content_Records/Registered/Subcontent2/Self_Assessment.aspx  

3. Santa Mina D. October 2017 Issue: Evidence-Based Practice for Kinesiologists. October 4 2017 [cited September 23 2018]. In: KineKT. Ontario Kinesiology Association.  Available from:


4. Morris ZS, Wooding S, Grant J. The answer is 17 years, what is the question: understanding time lags in translational research. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2011 Dec;104(12):510-20.  Available from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1258/jrsm.2011.110180 

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